TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:
APPLICANT: Lee County Department of Transportation
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Mullock Creek. The proposed project is located west of I-75 between Daniels Road and Alico Road, in Sections 22, 27 and 34, Township 45 South, Range 25 East, Latitude 26.51285 North, Longitude 81.79812 West in Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take I-75 to Daniels Parkway (Exit 131) west. The project site runs along the west side of I-75 to Alico Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.536261°
Overall: Three Oaks Parkway road extension in south Lee County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The overall linear project area encompasses 129.17 acres and remains largely undeveloped with a mixture of native and disturbed upland and wetland habitats (as depicted on the attached updated permit drawings). The project corridor is bordered by Daniels Parkway on the north, Interstate 75 and the Airport Connector Road on the east, undeveloped lands and residential areas on the west, and the airport canal, commercial developments under construction, and Alico Road on the south.The area is primarily characterized by improved and unimproved pastures, herbaceous and shrub and brush wetlands, hydric and upland pine flatwoods, hydric cypress (Taxodium distichum), pine (Pinus elliottii) and cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), borrow areas, existing roadways and previously disturbed areas. The majority of the project area has been heavily invaded with increasing levels of exotic vegetation including melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius),
old world climbing fern (Lygodium inicrophyllum), Australian pine (Casuaruba equisetifolia) and earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis). The presence of mature pine trees is limited within the project area and there are no existing bridges, overpasses or roof structures associated with the proposed roadway improvements.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to extend the permit authorization timeframe for previously authorized work. The project will result in 44.56 acres of previously authorized direct impact to freshwater wetlands, 42.16 acres of secondary impacts to freshwater wetlands, and 1.32 acres of impact to Waters of the U.S. to construct a four-lane divided highway with accompanying stormwater management systems. Due to budgetary constraints, the project was delayed and none of the permitted wetland impacts have occurred. The mitigation credit purchase required by Special Conditions of the permit and modification, however, were previously purchased and verification of same has been provided to the Corps.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment: The project was designed to minimize impacts to wetlands to the greatest extent practicable and was determined to meet federal avoidance and minimization criteria during the initial permitting of the project. No new impacts to wetlands are proposed as part of this five-year permit extension request. Adverse impacts to the adjacent surface waters will be minimized by the use of erosion control measures and the implementation of best management practices (BMP's).
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: The 5-year permit authorization time extension request does not include a request for additional wetland impacts, and additional mitigation is therefore not proposed. The mitigation required per Special Condition 6 of the permit was previously reserved and contracted by Lee County at the time of permit issuance and has been provided in advance of completing the proposed wetland impacts.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. By letter dated 8 October 2008, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) indicated that the review of the Florida Master Site File indicated that no significant archeological or historical resources are recorded in the project area. Furthermore, because of the location and/or nature of the project, it is unlikely that any such sites will be affected. Therefore the proposed project would have “No Potential to Cause Effect”.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus) and the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) or its designated critical habitat. The Corps received concurrence with these determinations on 29 September 2008 and 13 January 2017 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
A recent field inspection was conducted on 17 December 2018 by the applicant. There were no direct observations of the Eastern indigo snake, potential impacts to this species will be minimized through the implementation of the FWS Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake and no evidence of FBB roosting within the project limits was found during the site inspection. No further consultation is required.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The project occurs above the Mean High Water in freshwater wetlands and will not affect EFH.
NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program. The jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd, Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida within 15 days from the date of this notice.
The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Allison Murphy, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd, Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; by electronic mail at Allison.C.Murphy@usace.army.mil;by telephone at (239)334-1975 ext. 0008.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area.
EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other Interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board. In the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources permit constitutes compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Plan.
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.